Thursday, August 20, 2009

Saratoga Special Stakes Picks

D’ Funnybone heads a field nine 2-year-olds today in the 104th running of the $150,000 Saratoga Special (G2) at Saratoga Race Course. D’ Funnybone (6), trained by Rick Dutrow, is the 7-2 morning line favorite and comes into the 6½-furlong race with a second-place finish in the Frank Gomez Memorial Stakes at Calder Race Course.

West coast invader Zip Quik (3) is the 4-1 second choice. He gets first-time lasix and he is trained by two-time Saratoga Special winner Patrick Biancone. Zip Quik has two bullet works at Saratoga and he comes into the race with a third-place finish in the Williard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes and a second-place in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (G3) at Hollywood Park. Zip Quik’s sire, City Zip, won the Special in 2000 and sired Runaway and Hide – winner of the 2008 Special. Zip Quik’s grandsire, Carson City, sired the Saratoga Special winners Cuvee (2003) and Chace City (2006).

Flatter Than Me (4), trained by Merrill Scherer, is the 9-2 third choice. Flatter Than Me has been working good at Saratoga and he comes into the race with a second-place finish to the impressive Backtalk in the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs.

Steve Asmussen sends the 5-1 fourth-choice Thiskyhasnolimit (1) to the starting gate. Thiskyhasnolimit has been working good at Saratoga and he comes into the race with an impressive seven-length maiden win at Churchill Downs. Asmussen won the Special with Kodiak Kowboy in 2007 and Cuvee in 2003.

Fearless Cowboy (9), at 8-1 morning line odds, comes into the race with a second-place finish in the Victoria Stakes and a win in the Colin Stakes at Woodbine. Fearless Cowboy will be making his United States debut for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

At 20-1 morning line odds, Activity Report (7) will enter the starting gate for D. Wayne Lukas who has won the Special three times with Jump Start (2001), Bright Launch (1995) and Sovereign Don (1985). In his last start debuting for new trainer Lukas, Activity Report got caught in a speed duel early but faded to seventh in mid-stretch in the Sanford (G2) Stakes.

Todd Peltcher’s China (6-1), Barclay Tagg’s Insightful (12-1) and Tiny Woods (8-1), trained by Bob Baffert come into the Special off maiden wins.

Handicapping 2-year-olds in sprint races is very difficult and picking winners is something that I am working at doing better. Quite often there are several that could possibly win and in this field, I like Thiskyhasnolimit, Zip Quik and Flatter Than Me. All three have faced nice fields in their previous races and they should be tough in the Saratoga Special.

Activity Report and China (2) could be two good potential long shot bets.

Activity Report blew his last race in a speed duel and if Lukas can get him to relax he could be a factor in the Special.

China only has a maiden win to his credit but he won that in an impressive manor and he has the highest Brisnet Speed figure (100) of all in the field. I also like China’s breeding. His sire, Tale of the Cat, has produced several $1 million stakes winners such as Gio Ponti, Lion Heart and Tale of Ekati. His damsire, Indian Charlie, produced the $1 million stakes winners Indian Blessing and Fleet Indian.

I’ll probably play a small win/place and exacta bet on China and Activity Report. I’ll also use Thiskyhasnolimit, Zip Quik and Flatter in the exactas and trifectas.

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